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26th Jan 2024

Being raised by a working mum has long-lasting benefits for children


working mum

Maybe it’s time working mums go easier on themselves

Mum guilt is a common experience these days, especially with working mothers as it often feels like there are not enough hours in the day.

It can sometimes mean missing a football match here or there, or a ballet show or other smaller or bigger things. You can make every effort not to, but sometimes, holding down a job and being a mum, well, it can be a lot.

However, maybe we should all stop feeling so guilty.

Working mums benefit both girls and boys – in different ways

A 2015 Harvard Business School study found that adult children raised by mums who worked outside of the home experienced significant career boosts of their own.

In particular, researchers discovered that women with working mamas were more likely to be employed, work as supervisors and earn at least 23 per cent more than women with at-home mums.

It also benefits boys in the long term.

working mums

Men with mothers who worked were more likely to spend time taking care of family members and doing chores around the house, according to the research—meaning that working mums help promote more equal levels of responsibilities.

“There are very few things that we know of, that have such a clear effect on gender equality as being raised by a working mother,” says Kathleen L. McGinn, a Harvard business professor who co-led the study.

“The direct effects are significant across the board.”

Happier too

More research was done on children of working mums, and what the Harvard researchers found, was that not only did having a working mother make children more likely to succeed in their jobs, it also made them happy.

The researcher states: “Now the full study has been released, and it brings even more good news for the children of working moms: They wind up just as happy in adulthood as the children of moms who stayed home.”

working mum
Credit: Getty

Harvard Business School Professor Kathleen McGinn hopes the findings bring a big sigh of relief for guilt-ridden mothers who either have to hold down a job to make ends meet or simply choose to work outside the home while raising their children.

“People still have this belief that when moms are employed, it’s somehow detrimental to their children,” says McGinn, the Cahners-Rabb Professor of Business Administration. “So our finding that maternal employment doesn’t affect kids’ happiness in adulthood is really important.”

She continues: “This isn’t about raising happier kids. When women choose to work, it’s a financial and personal choice. Women should make that choice based on whether they want or need to work, not based on whether they are harming their children—because they are not.”